catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 21 :: 2005.11.18 — 2005.12.01


More than an egg

Sometimes, I am listening to a lecture or a sermon or reading a book when I encounter a small bit of truth that sticks with me and begins to inform the way I see and act in the world. Though he mostly focuses on popular culture experiences, author David Dark would probably still identify such a mundane moment as ?apocalyptic?; that is, the moment is a revelation of the world as it is in the reality of God. As we move into the time of national Thanksgiving, these moments are something for which I am grateful and I express my gratitude partially in the inclination to create space for those ?aha? moments to occur. I hope I am successful sometimes.

One of the revelatory moments to which I refer happened several months ago when a guest pastor conducted the Sunday service at our church. In the course of the sermon, he related a principle that helps him be a responsible global Christian, without becoming overwhelmed by all of the suffering in the world. The principle is choosing a place on which to focus one?s attention. While we must maintain a general awareness of world issues, choosing an area of focus allows us to know a part of the world very well, to donate to organizations doing good work there, to visit (if only once in our lifetimes), to advocate for justice from a knowledgeable, passionate position. For him, this area of the world is Israel/Palestine. Since this sermon, I have felt a pull toward the continent of Africa and I?m looking for a way to narrow that focus.

While choosing a part of the world is one good principle for creatures who easily become busy and overwhelmed, I think another way to address the same problem is to infuse the mundane with a sense of global significance. I don?t think we need to start a new project or support a new organization each time we come across an issue that is compelling to us. Rather, we need to look at the ways we?re already participating in the global culture and discover ways to be faithful in the everyday things of life.

Last weekend, I attended a conference, during which I discussed briefly during a comment time with journalist Steve Turner, the nature of ?culture? and how far its definition extends. To me, culture is any manifestation of our efforts to live in the world. Culture is the by-product of being. Therefore, when we talk about how ?culture is not optional,? we mean that our participation in and creation of culture is unavoidable by virtue of our created nature. ?Culture? is not merely a traditionally defined ?artistic? act or a distinctly ethnic way of life; it is any act of creation that occurs, even as we create our personal narrative in ordinary daily decisions.

Take boiling an egg, for example, which is sort of a classic mundane task raised as an example of doing the everyday things in a Christian way. Even in doing this task thoughtlessly, we engage in culture by virtue of our choices. However, there are legitimate questions that I, as a Christian, can ask myself toward the end of boiling that egg as an act of worshipful obedience.

  • Where did this egg come from? Was the animal treated in a stewardly way that reflects God?s love for creation?
  • Where did this water come from? How can I honor the image of Christ in the thirsty and the sick, as in those who don?t have ready access to clean water?
  • Where did this pan come from? Is it made from elements that will not be toxic to the body for which I care? Was it manufactured in a way that was a blessing, not a curse, to those human beings involved in the process?
  • What type of energy am I using to cook this egg? Is it produced in a manner that reflects care for God?s good earth? Is there an alternative that would be better?

And so on?you can probably see where I?m going with these questions. Our capacity to honor God in the mundane can be expanded as part of a practical, joyful journey that goes on through this whole life and into eternity. We don?t need to start the Society for the Christian Boiling of Eggs, but we do need to be thoughtful in everything and share our stories of discovery, realizing that we do what we have the ability to do one day and ask for more grace and insight for the next.

It is when we develop such a comprehensive consciousness that the invisible threads tying us to all creatures, people and created things start to materialize. We cultivate a sixth sense about the far-reaching effects of each action and we can pray for the passion and energy to be faithful stewards of those threads. We can also listen to the stories of others about the discoveries they have made in the pursuit of the one Kingdom of God, letting the truth be the truth wherever it may be found. May God call us all out of complacency into a place where we say with Mary the Mother of Christ, ?Let it be with me according to your word.? May we sense the Spirit guiding us toward a passion for God?s world and toward our next step in the journey of everyday faithfulness.

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